Upwork is a huge platform for buying and selling freelance services. I start seeing of lot posts and complaints about scams recently. My 2 cents as a freelancer (who is not on Upwork by the way).

Outsourcing work to freelancers can be incredibly valuable to companies, and creates a huge opportunity for employment including parts of the globe which are not downtown Manhattan. Over the past decade, I had many clients who were a bit nervous in the beginning to trusting a stranger 7 time hours ahead in time with their important presentation slides.

Platforms like Upwork can be helpful to match buyers and sellers, but the current effort to scale things up are taking it too far I think. Getting hundreds of applications for a small job, mechanistic monitoring (forced screenshots every 10 minutes), the whole thing just sounds wrong and is turning freelancers into the cog wheels pretty much like what happened in factories in the 19th century. If you try to make things efficient, stir price competition among suppliers, you get cheats, poor quality work, disputes.

If you want a $10 logo done in 24 hours, it will always be “a lottery”. The other approach is to look for a longer-term relationship, with potentially bigger projects. Take more time to get to know the freelancer, have a dialogue, check out previous work rather than star ratings generated by a system.

As the use of remote freelancers grows, the best way to find one might simply be the oldest: ask around among friends and/or colleagues, pretty much the same way you would find a piano teacher for your kid. The advantage over the piano teacher is that you now can engage designers anywhere in the world.

There are other hints that tell you that you are talking to a good freelance designer, she might charge a bit more than the rest, maybe is more honest about time it will take than the rest, and the best sign of all, she is very busy and might not have time to start working for you right away.

Cover image by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

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